A faded newspaperman downs a double Maker’s Mark and contemplates life as a “ham-and-egger,” a hack. Then one day he finds the scoop of a lifetime in a Chicago basement: diaries belonging to the infamous Judith Campbell Exner. Right, that Judy, the game girl who waltzed into the midst of America’s most powerful politicians, entertainers, and criminals as they conspired to rule America.
When Frank Sinatra flew Judy to Hawaii for a weekend of partying, she could hardly have imagined where it would lead her: straight to the White House and the waiting arms of Jack Kennedy. And then came the day that JFK and his brother Bobby asked her to carry a black bag to Chicago, where she was to hand it off to the boss of bosses, Sam Giancana. As our Narrator pieces the notebooks into a coherent story, he finds mob connections, rigged primaries, assassination plots, and trysts—and begins to see beyond the tabloid fare to a real woman, adrift and defenseless in a dangerous world where the fates of nations are at stake. As one by one the men Judy loved betrayed her and disappeared, and as the FBI pursued her into a living hell, her diary entries disintegrate along with the beautiful, tough, sweet woman the Narrator has come to know. Who was Exner, after all? Just a gangster’s moll? Or a bighearted woman who believed the sky-high promises of the New Frontier—and paid the price?